A week’s worth of pampering
The Manila spa scene has been established for a few years, so what is new and different today? Can there really be new spa life in the city? The Philippines has many beautiful awardwinning spas, and offers the best of urban retreats to explore and experience.
In the past, lack of training and ridiculously low prices did not help the industry, but now hotel retreats are starting to make waves again. Many locals wait for a special occasion to treat themselves and indulge in high-end spas. The question is, are the treatments deserving of their hefty price tags? We find those worth the splurge.
Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Makati
Located in the Fairmont Makati, guests are greeted with a Kenneth Cobonpue lounge seat to one side and a display of Aromatherapy Associates products on the other at Willow Stream Spa. The staff guide guests from sign-in to the wet area and locker room which has an upscale health club vibe.
The heated Jacuzzi and steam room make the time pass quickly. Cool flavoured water and the smell of essential oils in the air signals the transition from the hectic outside world to ‘me’ time. The treatment rooms are spacious and comfortable with furniture that’s easy on the eye. Once settled on the massage table, the crisp linens are pulled around and tucked into a cocoon.
What follows is complete bliss in the form of a 90-minute Jetlag Massage that starts with dry brushing to get rid of dead skin cells. A gel is then applied all over the body in long light to medium strokes, and deep kneading at the right points brings much relief. Warm wet towels are used to wipe the excess oils off the limbs making sure guests are ready to face the world again.
The posttreatment lounge offers an assortment of teas and lounge chairs. Willow Stream Spa sets the bar high for the rest of the spas to be discovered in Manila. www.fairmont.com
Clockwise from above: Unwind by the pool at Discovery Primea; enjoy ‘me’ time at Fairmont Makati’s Willow Stream Spa; Terazi Spa at Discovery Primea is truly an urban oasis
Terazi Spa at Discovery Primea
Terazi Spa’s contemporary spa lounge welcomes with a delicious turmeric pineapple juice served in a cosy relaxation lounge. A highlight is the excellent hammam, but upon entering be prepared to encounter a cloud of steam. There is however a private dressing room and bathroom where your belongings will be safe from the heat.
The room is spacious and large enough for a tandem treatment should you desire. Beautiful cream marble with lovely fixtures can be found inside and there are two water baths that may be used to cool off if the steam becomes too much. A 10-minute steam will ease sore muscles and help relax the mind; ideal for those that can’t seem to silence the chatty mind. A good place to encourage the brain to relax, let the mind rest and allow the heat to turn you into mush.
Clarity has a way of finding its way through after a hammam treatment. Sheila the therapist is a miracle worker dressed in a wet suit, performing a full-body scrub followed by a luxurious bubble bath, though not the usual kind. While lying on the marble slab, a cloth is filled with bubbly water and squeezed over the body until you are covered in a sea of bubbles.
It is amazing. A little massage and a wash down later, it’s time to turn over and start the whole process while on your front. A piece of cloth keeps you modest, but chances are you’ll be too relaxed to care. A cold shower and a glass of cool lemon water end the intensely relaxing time at Terazi Spa. www.discoveryprimea.com
Crown Spa at Crown Towers
One of the many facilities in the expansive City of Dreams Manila is the Crown Spa at Crown Towers. The wet area has a large Jacuzzi that could pass for a mini lap pool made from purple iridescent mosaic tiles reminiscent of butterfly wings. Bubble jets hitting the right spot are so inviting it is difficult to get out.
The Jacuzzi room is also covered in pearly yellow mosaic tiles that leaves the mind feeling cool as the body detoxifies with the heat. Lights lining the back ledge helps with meditation. A Two Fold Hilot Massage inspired by traditional Filipino healing methods is an utterly luxurious four-handed massage.
Using virgin coconut oil for the massage, tuba tuba leaves are placed on the back to draw out toxins, healing clay on the feet and dagdagay sticks used for reflexology. The treatment is relaxing and performed by experienced therapists which makes it challenging not to doze off.
Not only does the wet area and pampering impress, but the treatment suites are lavish, a room larger than most two-bedroom flats. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion with family or friends. www.crowntowers-manila.com
THIS PAGE: Crown Spa at Crown Towers boasts elegant treatment rooms; Terazi Spa offers indulgent massages. OPPOSITE PAGE : Spacious Crown Spa Suite at Crown Towers; Nobu Spa at Nobu Hotel Manila is minimalist and modern.
Nobu Spa at Nobu Hotel Manila
Also situated in City of Dreams Manila, Nobu Hotel Manila is minimalist and modern. Nobu Spa is hip with bamboo walls and floors with bright purple accents, while the gym which shares the reception area has a more energetic feel. The treatment rooms are spacious with clean lines lending to a Zen aesthetic.
Tea is served before and after treatments and can be savoured at the reception or in the room. The Renewal massage is a 90-minute cross between a deep tissue and Swedish massage that helps the body relax after a workout. It is just the thing after a strenuous gym session, or a means of escaping Manila’s hustle and bustle. www.nobuhotelmanila.com
Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel Edsa
Chi, The Spa has been around for many years, and is still Manila’s largest spa. New life has been given to this established oasis which remains beautiful and well maintained. The newly launched spa treatment Voyage to Istanbul offers the choice of a traditional, luxury or royal hammam, and a treatment ranging from 45 minutes to two hours.
With the Traditional Hammam, you will be pampered with a reviving body scrub and a soothing foam massage while lying on a warm granite slab. The Luxury Hammam includes an organic body mask with a soothing hair wash and moisturising session. The Royal Hammam tops the experience with a full-body aroma wellness signature massage for the ultimate in relaxation.
Chi, The Spa features a wonderful express facial using Biologique Recherche products, the only spa in Manila to carry the brand. A 30-minute cleanse and hydration session will have you feeling like new again. www.shangri-la.com
THIS PAGE: Le Spa at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila features natural accents; visit Shangri-La Hotel Edsa’s Chi, The Spa for a hammam treatment. OPPOSITE PAGE: Conrad Manila is one of the latest openings in the Manila Bay area.
Le Spa at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s Le Spa is a wellness sanctuary that takes you on a relaxing journey with its signature treatments and pampering rituals including local favourites Filipino Pride, Hilot Secret and Mayon Wrapsody. Integrating the local touch with the ancient art of healing, Le Spa offers a menu of sought-after treatments that you may enjoy in any of its nine treatment suites including a duo suite, ideal for friends, family or couples looking to embark on a soothing spa experience.
The ultimate design oasis, Le Spa’s elegant interiors highlight natural accents like Philippine shell and dark wood. Among its offerings are a lounge, dry and wet sauna, foot spa area and a spa suite with state of the art Trautwein Crystal Bath and sundeck, facing the famous Manila Bay sunset. www.sofitel.com
Conrad Spa at Conrad Manila
For those looking for the newest spa luxury indulgence, Conrad Spa at the recently opened Conrad Manila in the Manila Bay area, offers signature treatments using local and organic ingredients, with six treatment rooms featuring soaking tubs, private sauna and steam facilities for the ultimate rejuvenation.
Their ESPA body treatments and massages are tailored to ensure guests experience the best physical and emotional therapeutic benefits. The 90-minute Stressbuster is their hero treatment and targets the back, face and scalp, and includes a back exfoliation, hot stone massage, facial and scalp massage.
Also not to be missed is their Traditional Hilot, an ancient Filipino healing treatment using acupressure and manipulation techniques. The journey begins with a pure coconut scrub followed by a nourishing bath with coconut milk, and finishing with a full-body massage using banana leaves and coconut oil. Other musts are the 120-minute Kalinga and Relaxer massages which are guaranteed to have you coming back for more. www.conradhotels3.hilton.com